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Friday, June 14, 2013

Want a "Teacherpreneur" Making Education Policy?

At the Times, Lynne Varner continues her string of unintentionally funny editorial pieces.   She starts out right:

If we’re going to talk about money, let’s talk about the future of teaching because nearly 80 percent of education spending goes toward salaries.

Okay, BUT when 22% of American children (and that's about the same here in Washington State) live in poverty and you ignore that fact, then you are missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle.

As well, most of the money may go to salaries but the Legislature is not funding schools enough to provide funds for other needs.  Your biggest and most primary need is always going to be a teacher.

She then says:

A recent Seattle Times front-page story pointed to a rapprochement between teachers and ed reformers at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Imagine if the two sides had been working together all along.

Well, I 'm sure the teachers (and their unions) would have been more than happy to work with Gates but he (and his minions) were the ones bad-mouthing teachers.  Varner knows this but is happy to make it sound like both sides ignored each other.

Then she gets to a TFA-push idea:

The future of teaching is foreshadowed by fledgling organizations such as Teachers United and the empowering rhetoric of “teacherpreneurs,” those über-teachers who mentor and make policy when they’re not in the classroom.  

Really?  Like people who have 5 weeks of training, teach for two years and then are education "experts" who should make policy and run schools?  Nope.

She then talks about use of technology but leaves out the HOW that will happen in an organized manner?  She speaks of her son using the Khan Academy videos at home.  Great but how do you translate that to a larger scale?  She doesn't say.

She asks about future teacher training and curiously doesn't mention the new alt cert Seattle Teacher Residency program through SPS, the Alliance for Education, UW and SEA.   We want new and varied types of teachers?  Here's how to do it and yet she says nothing about it.

We rate and reward students based on performance. Why not teachers? 

Really?  How do we reward students' performance?  Does she mean by promotion or what?  Again, she tries to make a point without explaining it. 

It's frustrating to see such limited and unclear writing that will leave the average reader saying, "Sure that sounds good" without considering the how and why of what she suggests.

11 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I found this comment interesting:

"I wonder how many of you know that Seattle is offering contingency contracts to ALL of the candidates who finish that program AND the mentor teachers are being paid a $3,500 stipend paid for BY THE DISTRICT, not UW like in all other programs. Jonathan Knapp from SEA was part of the group who agreed to this--without giving the details to the rest of us.

THAT is money which will come out of the classroom."

I knew SPS was going to be expected to pick up the bill in a few years, but I didn't know it was already happening.

Anonymous said...

I don't really have a problem with the contingency contracts. Seattle has a lousy recruiting strategy, and most of the best new talent is scooped up by suburban districts who have their act together.

These contingency contracts are offered only to the STR residents who successfully complete a program that is more rigorous than UW, SPU, SU, or other programs offer, they're not being guaranteed a job unless they meet high requirements. Also, they will have to interview, apply, and get a position like anyone else (myself included, many years ago) who has been recruited with a contingency contract.

The mentor teachers are currently receiving a stipend paid for out of a grant - it's not coming from district dollars. That is inaccurate. My guess is that eventually, being a teacher who trains district-trained recruits will be another career-ladder position.

--Teacher

mirmac1 said...

Teacher,

Could you identify that grant? Is it TIF? Or is it the supplemental levy, passed to implement the many career-ladder positions pushed by LEV/OSC?

I have a problem with a defacto contract for every STR recruit, over other teachers who compete for contracts. Must be nice...

Unknown said...

Melissa isn't this the pot calling the kettle black. I wish you would make up your mind. One day your calling for accountability and the next your asking the public to look the other way in the face of another financial scandal. This leads me to believe you don't really care about accountability or fixing the problem, you really only care about the opinion thats trending. And the idea that you really care about minority students is laughable. Your decision making in the past has clearly shown that your "concern" doesn't go further than the headlines on your blog.
Nick Esparza

Anonymous said...

Phrase it another way and Ms. Varner will shift her rhetoric: "We're going to send barely trained short term volunteers and those who wish to provide compartmentalized curriculum bought off the shelf to schools that are primarily students of color. We're doing this because it's cheap and it's not like they're going to graduate and put the 'pap' back in newspaper columns."

It's a silly and effectively racist strategy to sell out the least powerful students in society. But THEN you make it 'fair' by ruining education for all students to try and cover up that racism.

I will no longer even tolerate the attempt to equate this as an alternative for proper teaching.

-Demosthenes

Melissa Westbrook said...

Nick, you don't know me and so to say I don't care about minority students in incorrect and just flat out wrong. But I don't need to defend my record as most here know it.

I have always cared about accountability. This blog was the place that first raised the red flag on the Silas Potter scandal.

We don't follow trends here; we pretty much allow the news of the day - from our sources, other media sources and our readers - to lead the stories.

Nick Esparza said...

Your record does speak for itself. It speaks to the fact that you have painted them in a negative light and that you always have. You voted to close most minority schools when you were part of the close or consolidate commission. How is advocating for the minority while disenfranchising them being for them?



Further more you argue that you let the news of the day lead the discussion, well that's fine. But continually decrying the Seattle Times doesn't make your opinion any stronger. Try putting forth some solutions. Having a complaint and not offering a solution the SPS or even to your readers is exactly what's wrong with bloggers. Try something risky like offering your alternative. OR you could do something really outrageous and actually do something about it. Run for a seat on the school board, organize a community group. Make some noise that people can't ignore.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You obviously have not done your homework. Charlie and I have offered numerous solutions - both our own and via reader suggestions.

I started and ran one of the No on 1240 campaigns. You can't put yourself out there much more than that.

An ill-formed opinion doesn't help your arguments.

n said...

Nick wants more for his underprivileged population We all want that, Nick. I don't know how we get it. We are all limited by institutional paralysis.

Nick Esparza said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Mas said...

All I have ever asked the District to do is the stuff that they promised to do.